Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:37PM
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada speaks during a press conference in Caracas on July 18, 2017.  (Photos by AFP)
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada speaks during a press conference in Caracas on July 18, 2017. (Photos by AFP)

The government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has vowed to go ahead with its plans for a new congress despite the US’ "brutal interventionist" threats of economic sanctions.

"Venezuelans are free and will unite against the insolent threat from a xenophobic and racist government ... (and) the United States' brutal interventionist efforts," said Venezuelan Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada on Tuesday.

"It is an act of political sovereignty by the Republic. Nothing and nobody can stop it," he added.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump said he would take "strong and swift economic actions" if Maduro continued with new body that would be capable of rewriting Venezuela's constitution and would supersede other institutions. “If the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions."

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On Monday, Venezuela’s opposition held a symbolic, general vote aimed at assessing overall public sentiments toward constitutional reforms proposed by the government.

Maduro insists that a new constitution is needed “to restore peace,” stop the opposition from carrying out a “coup d’etat,” and rid the country of social and economic woes.

A truck set ablaze by opposition activists blocking an avenue during a protest burns in Caracas, on July 18, 2017. 

The South American nation of 30 million has recently been the scene of intense protests, which broke out after the Supreme Court stripped the opposition-controlled parliament of its powers in April.

The move unleashed long-simmering anger and sparked the fiercest protests against Maduro in three years. While that decision was later revoked, protests have only gained momentum.